Attorney plaintiffs who brought breach of contract action in propria persona cannot recover attorney fees for time spent in defending own case. Linda Richards v. Sequoia Insurance Company, (No. A127784 California Courts of Appeal, First
Appellate District, Division Three, May 10, 2011)
The attorney plaintiffs sued an insurance company for breach of contract and breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing due to the insurance company’s alleged delay in providing a defense and coverage for a wrongful death action tendered by the plaintiffs. The trial court granted summary judgment for the insurance company on the basis that the plaintiffs sustained no damages as a result of the insurance company’s breach. The appeals court affirmed the trial court’s ruling.
The appeals court stated that attorneys who represent themselves in disputes involving contracts, which provide for attorneys fees, cannot recover reasonable attorney fees for time spent on defending their own case. The breach of contract claim was predicated on the insurance company’s denial of defense. The court found that the plaintiffs did not sustain any actionable damage because the insurance company provided coverage and paid to settle the underlying lawsuit. The plaintiffs as attorneys litigating in pro per could not have been said to “incur” compensation for their time and lost business opportunities in defending their own case.